Lebanon Businessnews News

State seeks to counter drop in agricultural exports
Hajj Hassan urges exporters to tap Iraqi, Libyan markets to replace Syria
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The associations of farmers called off a strike that was planned for today (July 4), after the Ministry of Agriculture promised to take a number of measures to support exports.

“The strike will be suspended for now, pending new procedures… mainly in terms of easing access to subsidies on agricultural exports,” the farmers said.

The Minister of Agriculture, Hussein Hajj Hassan, said measures to support agricultural exports are underway, these include allowing empty trucks from Arab countries to enter the country. Trucks used in overland trade are currently not allowed to pass through the border unless they carry goods.

Farmers last week threatened an open-ended strike. They complained of a shortage in transit trucks and high transportation costs, demanding better support for exports through the state subsidy program, Agri-Plus.

A number of amendments have been made to Agri-Plus. These include an additional subsidy for citrus fruits, and increasing the subsidy for exports to Iraq. The $33 million-program divides export markets into geographic zones. The first zone covers neighboring markets and include Syria, Jordan, and previously Iraq. The second zone covers more distant markets, like Egypt, Libya, Turkey, and the Gulf. The other two zones cover the markets of Europe, Asia, America, and Australia. Subsidies vary with the proximity of the export market, the farther the destination, the higher the support. Iraq was moved from the first and in to the second zone.

Hajj Hassan called on farmers to “make extra efforts to export their products to Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and the Gulf,” in order to make up for the Syrian market. He also said that more measures are expected as meetings between stakeholders will be kept open.

Reported by Hanadi Chami
Date Posted: Jul 04, 2012
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